If you’re looking for an affordable new classical guitar then the Takamine GC5-NAT could be your new best friend.
Maybe you’re a student in need of an upgrade, or maybe you’re like me and love trying out new models.
Either way, I’m going to help you figure out whether the Takamine GC5-NAT is the best classical guitar for you under $500.
At a Glance…
✔️ What we like: Excellent resonance and a beautiful tone
❌ What we don’t like: Synthetic nut and saddle
- Solid spruce top
- Dovetail neck joint
- Fan bracing
Our Verdict: The Takamine GC5-NAT is an exceptional classical guitar considering it’s under $500. It’s well-crafted with great attention to detail which is so important when it comes to affordable models. It’s not quite a professional standard classical guitar but it’s pretty close! I think it would be the ideal upgrade for any student.
Who is the Takamine GC5-NAT Best Suited To?
The Takamine GC5-NAT is one of the most versatile models I’ve reviewed for under $500. It has a great balance of warmth and clarity so it would suit plenty of playing styles. It would be a great choice if you’re looking to transition from classical to flamenco style.
The Takamine GC5-NAT isn’t as bright as flamenco models of the same price, so it would help you to ease yourself into the new style! Classical, jazz and folk players could also easily fall in love with this model. If you have the budget, the Takamine GC5-NAT would be ideal for kids because it’s incredibly light as well!
Unfortunately, it isn’t quite advanced enough to be suitable for pros, but it would be the perfect companion for any other players!
Looking for an affordable professional model? Try the Cordoba C12 SP
Features & Benefits
Body & Neck
If you’ve read my affordable classical guitar reviews before, you’ll know I usually recommend choosing cedar tops over spruce. Cedar tends to have better response than spruce because it’s a much softer wood. However, the GC5 is an exception to my rule (thanks for proving me wrong, Takamine). To be honest, I’m not surprised because every Takamine guitar I’ve tried has been exceptionally well-crafted.
In terms of craftsmanship, the GC5 has quite a lot to boast about. First of all, it has traditional fan bracing which is probably what gives the guitar such great response. Plus, it has dovetail construction and we all know I’m a huge fan of that! It’s pretty rare to find guitars with dovetail construction in this price range so this makes me very happy!
Anyway, let’s have a chat about aesthetics (my favorite part). The first thing that caught my attention was the mosaic rosette. I love traditional rosettes like this and I think the red color adds to the guitar’s overall warm feel. I’m also a huge fan of the black walnut back and sides, they’re pretty unique! Overall, I think the GC5 is pretty edgy looking and I LOVE it!
Alright, shall we talk about the white machine heads for a minute? It’s details like these that really make me fall in love with a guitar! I say this a lot but just because I’m buying a budget model doesn’t mean I’ll settle for a cheap-looking guitar. The gold tuners make this guitar look really boujee and I’m here for it. We’ve got classic nickel-silver frets which are finished really nicely.
They’re perfectly flush with the neck which is something you should look out for when you’re buying an affordable classical guitar. Even if it looks great and sounds great, the finishings can really let a model down.
You don’t want to end up blowing your budget by having a luthier iron these things out; then you may as well have bought a more expensive model! Sorry, that was a bit of a rant but what I’m trying to say is the hardware on the GC5 gets an A+ from me!
For a spruce top guitar, the GC5 actually has quite a mellow sound; it’s probably down to the black walnut wood! I love the sound of the GC5 because, although it’s warm, the spruce top gives it so much clarity. I love soulful guitars as much as the next gal, but I think notes can get lost in the warmth sometimes.
That’s why I’m really impressed by the GC5; it’s warm and dreamy but you can still punch out every note! In terms of style, I think this is one of the most versatile guitars under $500. I mean, it might be mellow, but you can still get a brilliant flamenco growl!
So, from classical to folk, I think most players would get a lot of enjoyment out of this guitar.
- Body Material: Solid spruce top, black walnut back and sides
- Neck Material: Mahogany
- Fingerboard Material: Laurel
- Pickups: None
- Bridge: Rosewood with synthetic bone saddle
Let’s be honest, most guitars under $500 are going to have a few limitations. The first thing I want to talk about is the synthetic nut and saddle. I think the GC5 could easily be a professional level guitar with the extra sustain from either real bone or TUSQ nut and saddle.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think this guitar has enough sustain and volume to qualify as an intermediate/advanced student model; it just doesn’t quite meet pro standards for me. Second of all, I would love to have seen a truss rod in this model. It’s a spruce top guitar with fan bracing, so flamenco players could be drawn to it.
A truss rod would allow them to lower the action to true flamenco style without having to take it to the luthier. Anyway, those are the only real limitations I can think of (not bad for an affordable model)!
Popular Questions About the Takamine GC5-NAT
I have to say, the Takamine GC5-NAT’s action is rather high. This would probably suit more classical players but may be an issue for flamenco players. You may be able to ask Takamine to lower the action before they send it to you if you send your supplier an email when you order from their Amazon store. Otherwise, you’ll have to take the guitar to a luthier.
Laurel is similar to rosewood in terms of durability. They have basically the same tone and quite a similar look. The only real difference between Lauren and Rosewood is that Laurel tends to have a more prominent wood grain.
No. The Takamine GC5-NAT doesn’t come with an endpin installed.
The Most Versatile Classical Guitar Under $500
Whether you’re a classical guitar junkie looking for a new model to try or a student looking for an upgrade, I hope I’ve helped you narrow things down. The Takamine GC5-NAT is a cracking guitar all-round! Although it has a few minor limitations, I think it would make the ideal upgrade for most students.
Even if you’re not sure what style you like to play, the GC5 would be the perfect model to experiment with.
Let’s go make some music!
- Antonio Giuliani CL-5 Classical Guitar Review
- Godin Etude Classical Guitar Review
- Takamine GC5-NAT Classical Guitar Review
- 8 Best Classical Guitars Under $1000 In 2020
- LAVA ME 2 Guitar Review (Carbon Fiber Acoustic Electric Classical Guitar)
Fiona is a musician and writer. When she’s not working, she’s either playing the ukulele or finding another instrument to add to her collection.